ARC REVIEW: Reincarnation Blues – by Michael Poore

Title: Reincarnation Blues
Author: Michael Poore

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
First published: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Finished reading: August 12th 2017
Pages: 384

“Death was a door. You went through it over and over, but it still terrified people.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Del Rey Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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This book isn’t exactly what I would normally pick up, but there was just something about the cover and blurb of Reincarnation Blues that caught my attention and made me want to read it. Reading books out of my comfort zone can go either way, but all in all this novel by Michael Poore turned out to be a little gem. The first thing that stood out when I started reading Reincarnation Blues was the writing style. I fell in love almost immediately with the way this story was told and I found myself completely absorbed into this piece of speculative fiction with a sci-fi twist. This story is about a man called Milo who is reincarnated through many many lifetimes set both in the past, present and future. He is now about to start life number 9.996… Just when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection. The chapters are a mix of what happens during these lives, what happens in between and how he fell in love with Death herself.  Some lives are told in more detail while others seem less important, but they all help develop his character in a very fascinating way. Basically you can say Reincarnation Blues is a collection of connecting short stories about the different lives Milo lives and how his actions influence his next life. The romance is subtle, very well done and didn’t bother me at all; the wordbuilding of the different world in between fascinating. I personally didn’t enjoy some of the chapters set in the future (for example chapter 14, which is set in a prison in space) as much as the rest of the story, but that could have been just me not being into full-blown science fiction in the first place. The wonderful writing and rest of the story in general mostly made up for those feelings though. Reincarnation Blues isn’t for everyone, but it is a truly fascinating read that I can definitely recommend if you think this sounds like your cup of tea!

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Milo has been reincarnated nearly 10.000 times when he finds out he only has five more lives to get it right and reach Perfection so he can become part of the Oversoul. He is not sure he truly wants this though because it might affect his relationship withhis one true love: Death herself. They only see each other in between lives and he can’t imagine having to continue without her… But Milo doesn’t seem to have any other option than to try his best, because if he doesn’t get it right before the deadline, his soul will vanish forever. His lives take him from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day in the hope of finally living that perfect life. Will he be able to reach that goal in time?

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Reincarnation Blues isn’t the type of book I normally pick up, but sometimes browsing outside your comfort zone can bring some very pleasant surprises. This book turned out to be a hidden gem and I really enjoyed following Milo’s story as he lives his lives through time and space. Some chapters were a bit too futuristic for me, but that is probably mostly me since sci-fi isn’t really my genre in the first place. The writing was wonderful though as well as the rest of the story.


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ARC REVIEW: Americosis Vol. 3 – by Haydn Wilks

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Title: Americosis Vol. 3
Author: Haydn Wilks

Genre: Short Stories, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: September 21st 2016
Publisher: Dead Bird Press
Finished reading: January 6th 2017
Pages: 60
Rating 3,5qqq

“Disuse. Disrepair. Despair. Three words that sum up the country three-and-a-half hundred million Americans are now living in.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I read the first two parts of this ongoing short story series by Haydn Wilks some time last year, and in the month in between I had forgotten just how weird and messed up they were. Because there is just no other way to describe Americosis other than call it absolute MADNESS. This third part follows yet again the various different storylines and is literally packed with action and descriptions of this crazy dystopian world. A bunch of different things are happening all at once in this extreme version of the US: a weird sexually transmitted disease taking over, aliens, time travel, violent attacks… The writing is very explicit and direct, and the sheer crazyiness of it all just draws you into the story straight away. The Savior bit of this third volume didn’t feel as strong as the previous two, but maybe it just was because he didn’t feel as present. If you are looking for something different and fullblown crazy dystopian, definitely check the Americosis volumes out. Slight warning: it is an ongoing series and the volumes have no proper ‘ending’, so you will be left wondering what happens next after each volume.

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Things are just getting more and more out of hand… Detroit is currently burning, and crazed buck naked freaks with crescent moon scars carved into their cheeks are everywhere, attacking people and biting whole faces off. The police and government are having a hard time keeing things under control… Is the madness finally winning? And what about the Savior and Libby, currently stuck in a time loop and lost in the desert?

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Americosis is without doubt the most crazy and messed up series I’ve been reading to this date. It is so full of madness and crazy events that the story is starting to grow on you, although I wish each volume wouldn’t stop right in the middle of the action without proper ending. The cliffhangers do help making you wonder just by how much the madness will increase next time… This story isn’t for everyone and you have to be in the mood to absorb such a high dose of crazy, but the right person will fall in love with the Americosis volumes.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Time Machine – by H.G. Wells

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Title: The Time Machine
Author: H.G. Wells
Genre: Classics, Science Fiction, Time Travel
First published: 1895
Finished reading: May 17th 2016
Pages: 104
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“We should strive to welcome change and challenges, because they are what help us grow. With out them we grow weak like the Eloi in comfort and security. We need to constantly be challenging ourselves in order to strengthen our character and increase our intelligence. ”

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I normally seem to be having a love/hate relationship when it comes to classics, but since I have been wanting to read The Time Machine for a while now and I needed more classics for a challenge I decided to give it a go anyway. This story set in the year 802.701 AD is without doubt a quick read and and has an interesting vision of the future, especially when you keep in mind the story was written in the 19th century. Still, I’m having mixed feelings about this time travel story. I felt the story was a bit too ‘communist’ to my taste. Why? It almost seemed like H.G. Wells was promoting communism by showing that the seemingly rich and priviledged Eloi are actually quite weak and the ‘lower’ Morlocks are more technically advanced because of the simple need to adapt to a complicated situation. The quote above shows this quite well… I’m not saying the political theme is necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I expected and I’m still not sure what to think of it. And I didn’t enjoy the descriptions of the part where he travels towards the final moments of the Earth as much as his first time travel adventure either. Still, I can’t deny the story in general reads fast and is quite entertaining if you can get past the political theme. The descriptions of this future are without doubt interesting!

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A Victorian scientist calls himself the Time Traveller as he tries to convince his friends that he was finally able to build a working time machine. They all seem a bit skeptic and don’t believe him, until the day that his time machine vanishes from sight. It seems like time travelling is indeed possible! He takes himself to the year 802.701 AD, and soon finds out life is completely different then. The Time Traveller has a hard time communicating with the inhabitants of this strange future, but he is happy to see that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. But soon enough he starts to discover that the Eloi people are not as advanced as they might seem and are in fact quite weak. The Eloi are afraid of the dark, and with reason, because beneath their paradise live the Morlocks hidden in the deep tunnels. They have evolved in order to survive under the complicated circumstances in the tunnel, and now hunt the very people that used to control them…

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While I liked the general descriptions of The Time Machine and it was interesting to read a vision of the future that was written over one hundred years ago, I still have mixed thoughts about this read. The main problem I had involves the political theme, which I thought distracted the attention from an otherwise entertaining sci-fi time travel story. I won’t be saying this classic is a must read, but it is an interesting enough read if you like these kind of stories and quite short as well.

BOOK REVIEW: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century – by Rachel Harris

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Title: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
(My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1)
Author: Rachel Harris
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Time Travel
First published: September 11th 2012
Finished reading: December 12th 2015
Pages: 264
Rating 2,5qqq

“I’m supposed to learn something. A lesson, like in some teenybopper show. I stare at the door and wait for Miley Cyrus to come barreling in, singing tunelessly about our pasts being the key to our futures.”

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I have to admit I only picked up a copy of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century because I needed a book set in the sixteenth century to complete a challenge. I like time travel books in general, but this first novel of a series just sounded too much like a romance/chick lit story to my taste. While this novel by Rachel Harris turned out to be slightly better than expected, I still cannot say I have actually enjoyed reading it. The setting in sixteenth century Italy is without doubt interesting and I liked how the author tried to demostrate the clashes between two different eras in the prose. Still, I can’t say I actually liked the characters OR the way they behaved in general. A mayor part of the plot and characters was either cliche or not really original. Also, the prose felt almost forced-funny at points… It was quite a quick read and I suppose it will work perfectly as a beach read as long as you are not expecting too much. Personally, I wouldn’t actually continue this series though.

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Cat Crawford doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlights as her mother and her bubbly stepmother do, but somehow they are going to throw and extravagant gala for her sixteenth birthday. Cat is desperate to find a way to stop the gala, and even forced her father to go on a trip to Florence, Italy as a peace offering. Her mother is Italian, and Cat is excited to be discovering more about her past. But when she enters an unusual gypsy tent, she suddenly comes really close to her ancestors. When she exits the tent, she walks right into Renaissance Firenze. She still has her backpack full of future gadgets, but is forced to live the life of a sixteenth century teenager… Complete with new relatives and a gorgeous teenage artist to distract her. Will she be able to learn the lessons she needs to learn and find her way back to the future?

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The summary of this novel sounds quite interesting, but after seeing the cover and some of the reviews I was already expecting My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century wouldn’t be for me. Why did I pick it up, would you say? I had trouble finding another title set in the sixteenth century, so I was keeping my fingers crossed this one wouldn’t be that bad. All in all this novel isn’t horrible and I give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not exactly a great read either. The prose, characters and plot all lack that extra something that makes a story into something really good.

BOOK REVIEW: My Name Is Memory – by Ann Brashares

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Title: My Name Is Memory
Author: Ann Brashares
Genre: YA, Fiction, Romance
First published: June 1st 2010
Finished reading: October 13th 2015
Pages: 324
Rating 2,5qqq

“I killed her once and died for her many times and I still have nothing to show for it. I always search for her ; I always remember her. I carry the hope that someday she will remember me.”

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Yes, I admit I mostly picked up my copy of My Name Of Memory because of the cover. The blurb sounded interesting as well, although I was afraid things would turn out to be too cheesy. Those who follow my blog will already know I’m not a big romance fan and I’m probably one of the few that haven’t read The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants yet (and probably won’t). I’m not saying this was a particularly bad read and I actually enjoyed some of the stories set in the past, but the more recent storyline is full of cliches and the romance scenes just didn’t do it for me. I did like the general idea of the story, although some of it was a bit far-fetched. Daniel is what you call an old soul with many memories of his past, but some of the things he does during the story are actually quite ‘stupid’. Also, I’m not sure I actually like Lucy… Although I do appreciate her development as a character if you forget about some of cliche actions. I have a feeling this one is another case of not-for-me. So I guess that if you like romance stories and enjoy reading Anna Brashares‘ work in general, you will probably end up enjoying My Name Is Memory as well.

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Ever since the first life he remembers set in 552 Asia Minor, Daniel has been falling in love with the soul of the same girl. Life after life, he and Sophia have been finding either other, but somehow they were never destined to actually be together… And while Daniel has the ability to recall past lives and recognize the souls of others, Sophia never seems to remember him. Daniel keeps hoping to finally have the chance to be together with the woman he has loved for centuries, and it seems that the young Sophia (now called Lucy) finally begins to remember some of their shared past. But will the mysterious force that has kept them separated tear them apart again?

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Like I said before, part of me not liking My Name Is Memory that much is because I simply don’t enjoy reading romance stories in general. The general plot idea is actually quite interesting and I enjoyed reading about Daniel’s past, but the more recent scenes and the romance between Daniel and Lucy were just too cliche for me. But if you enjoy the genre in general and like the sound of this story, I do suggest giving this novel by Ann Brashares a try.

BOOK REVIEW: The Time Keeper – by Mitch Albom

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Title: The Time Keeper
Author: Mitch Albom
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 4th 2012
Finished reading: October 7th 2015
Pages: 224
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“With endless time, nothing is special. With no loss or sacrifice, we can’t appreciate what we have.”

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I’ve had Mitch Albom‘s work on my radar for a while now, but I was hesitant to pick it up because I normally don’t really enjoy religious stories. The Time Keeper has been recommended to me various time though and I was promised this story was mostly spiritual/inspirational, which I can say is correct now I’ve finally read it. The Time Keeper is an intriguing story about the man who first invented time and how it evolved over six thousand years, and it really makes you think about how important time seems to be nowadays. It truly is an inspiring story that is also very well written. The only complaint I might have is that the ‘today’ characters, Sarah and Victor, just felt too superficial and I couldn’t really connect to them. But it is also clear that Mitch Albom mostly wrote this novel to make us think about the importancy we give time and how it can affect our lives in a negative way. I would definitely recommend this read if you enjoy the genre!

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When the first man succeeds in measuring time and invents the first clock, he is punished and becomes Father Time. He is banished to a cave for six thousand years and forced to listen to the voices of those asking for more time… When his soul is almost broken, he is hiven his freedom under one condition: fulfill the mission of teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time. Only then he will be able to return to his loved ones… He returns to our world and starts a journey to find the two people that he is supposed to teach. One wants to give up on life, while the other wants to live forever… Will he be able to show them the true meaning of time?

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The Time Keeper is without doubt a very interesting read with a strong message. I wasn’t convinced by some of the characters, but the chapters with the man that invented time, Dor, are excellent. This Mitch Albom novel is a quick read and very well written, and I would definitely recommend it if you normally enjoy these kind of reads. It definitely makes you see things in a different perspective!

BOOK REVIEW: Landline – by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
First published: July 3rd 2014
Finished reading: August 13th 2015
Pages: 308
Rating 2

“Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.”

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After enjoying Eleanor & Park last year and loving Fangirl a few months ago, I was really looking forward to this read. I still think Rainbow Rowell‘s YA fiction is more than excellent, but I’m sorry to say I didn’t end up enjoying Landline at all. I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why, but I do know there were a lot of things wrong with this story. The plot was pretty much non-existent and I really didn’t like the main characters and how they acted. And the magic phone? Not convincingly done at all and it just didn’t fit into the whole contemporary romance genre. Maybe if the idea would have been presented better and you would actually get an idea of how the whole timetravel-magic-phone-thing works, Landline would have made a lot more sense. Now I just felt it was a bunch of random events with a not so satisfying ending. I have to admit the prose was pretty good, as I would have expected from Rainbow Rowell, but the rest of this story definitely didn’t convince me.

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Georgie McCool has been having problems in her marriage for a long time, but she is too busy with her job as a TV writer do to anything about it. She still loves her husband Neal, but she doesn’t know how to save her marriage… When something’s come up on her show just before Christmas, Georgie is forced to cancel their trip to visit Neal’s family in Omaha. Neal does the unthinkable and decides to go home with their kids without her. Georgie wonders if she’s finally crossed the line and ruined her marriage forever… And even her best friend and coworker Seth can’t get her to concentrate on her job. Then Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past… But what is she supposed to do?

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If you haven’t read any of Rainbow Rowell‘s novels yet, I highly suggest to try the other titles first. Landline is simply disappointing, and I don’t think I would have tried her other novels if I would have read this one first. I liked the prose in general, but the lack of plot and annoying characters were a mayor turn off. And then I’m not even talking about the magic phone… I had such high expectations for this one, but it just didn’t work for me.